And he said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” And the ones reclining with him began saying among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Luke 7:48–49, translated from the NA28 Greek text
εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῇ· ἀφέωνταί σου αἱ ἁμαρτίαι. καὶ ἤρξαντο οἱ συνανακείμενοι λέγειν ἐν ἑαυτοῖς· τίς οὗτός ἐστιν ὃς καὶ ἁμαρτίας ἀφίησιν; Luke 7:48–49, NA28
I went to “Easter” services at our church with my family last night. Yes, we still call it that, but I assure you there was nothing pagan, or worldly about what went on there. I heard the Gospel preached clearly and succinctly. I heard how vital our Lord’s resurrection is to not only our faith, but also to our entire orthodox belief system. Jesus was raised from the dead and, 40 days later, he was taken up into Heaven to sit at right had of God the Father. However, we are told in the Word that in like manner, our Lord will return (Acts 1:9-11).
As I heard the Gospel preached, I rejoiced and worshipped God and thanked Him for saving me. I know that I most certainly am unworthy of being one of the elect, but that is the nature of grace and, I as I think back on how God the Father drew me to the Son even though I was not even thinking about going that way myself, I am amazed that He would have mercy on a wretch like me.
In Luke 7:36-50 we are given the circumstances of our Lord saving a woman who most of us could most certainly relate to, if we are honest.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in the latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, in hypocrisy of ones speaking lies, having been seared in their own conscience 1 Timothy 4:1–2, translated from the NA28 Greek text
Τὸ δὲ πνεῦμα ῥητῶς λέγει ὅτι ἐν ὑστέροις καιροῖς ἀποστήσονταί τινες τῆς πίστεως προσέχοντες πνεύμασιν πλάνοις καὶ διδασκαλίαις δαιμονίων, ἐν ὑποκρίσει ψευδολόγων, κεκαυστηριασμένων τὴν ἰδίαν συνείδησιν 1 Timothy 4:1–2, NA28
I have previously made clear what all Christians’ stance should be on homosexuality. That stance is biblical and any attempt to soften, change, or redirect it has as its source the father of all lies and enemy of our souls. I am sure all reading this here in April 2015 are aware of the “human rights” crisis that was manufactured around the Indiana state government passing a bill that is nearly identical to that which exists in 21 other states and is also on record in the Federal Government, which became law during the Clinton administration. Yes, this law simply says that a person’s religious convictions cannot become subject to that of the state or another group, etc. In other words it simply supports the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Notice the part in italics. That being said, we live in a time in which liberal activists demand tolerance for everyone – that is, everyone except Christians who have a conscience bound to the Word of God, who refuse to violate that conscience simply because society or the government demands “tolerance” for that which the Word of God says is evil. These liberal activists demanding tolerance reveal their real selves when they become totally intolerant of those who are not going to violate their consciences bound to the Word God even if it costs them everything, even death. History is replete with examples of this (PDF).
I wrote to you in the epistle not to mix with fornicators, not meaning complete dissociation from the fornicators of this world or greedy and swindlers or idolaters, since you would have to then go out from the world. But now I wrote to you not to mix with anyone who is called a brother if he is a fornicator or a greedy man or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or a swindler. Do not eat with such a man. For what do I have to do with the judging of outsiders? Is it not the ones within you are to judge? But the ones outside God judges. Remove the evil man from among yourselves. 1 Corinthians 5:9–13, translated from the NA28 Greek text
Ἔγραψα ὑμῖν ἐν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι πόρνοις, οὐ πάντως τοῖς πόρνοις τοῦ κόσμου τούτου ἢ τοῖς πλεονέκταις καὶ ἅρπαξιν ἢ εἰδωλολάτραις, ἐπεὶ ὠφείλετε ἄρα ἐκ τοῦ κόσμου ἐξελθεῖν. νῦν δὲ ἔγραψα ὑμῖν μὴ συναναμίγνυσθαι ἐάν τις ἀδελφὸς ὀνομαζόμενος ᾖ πόρνος ἢ πλεονέκτης ἢ εἰδωλολάτρης ἢ λοίδορος ἢ μέθυσος ἢ ἅρπαξ, τῷ τοιούτῳ μηδὲ συνεσθίειν. τί γάρ μοι τοὺς ἔξω κρίνειν; οὐχὶ τοὺς ἔσω ὑμεῖς κρίνετε; τοὺς δὲ ἔξω ὁ θεὸς κρινεῖ. ἐξάρατε τὸν πονηρὸν ἐξ ὑμῶν αὐτῶν. 1 Corinthians 5:9–13, NA28
As the true Gospel is proclaimed with power, it is always accompanied by the Law which is used by the Holy Spirit to reveal to the lost their utter need for a Saviour and the complete helplessness to save themselves from the coming wrath of God upon all sin that has not been covered by blood of Christ through his atoning work on the Cross. Those who have not been justified by faith alone through grace alone, through believing the Gospel and receiving Christ as Lord and Saviour, are those mentioned in the passage above that are “outsiders.” He also makes it clear that many are “called a brother,” but their actions of an unrepentant lifestyle reveal that they are subject to being judged according to church discipline and cast out of the local body of believers.
Christian News Network reports:
The producer of an acclaimed documentary that recently hit theaters across the country and is currently being shown in churches nationwide is sharing his story of how he came to Christ as a result of his work on the film.
Brian Ivie, 24, is the director of the film “The Drop Box,” a documentary that tells the story of South Korean pastor Lee Jong-rak, who is credited with saving countless abandoned babies who might have otherwise have died after being left on the streets by their mothers.
Media outlets are reporting that televangelist and motivational speaker Robert Schuller has died. According to Fox News:
Schuller died early Thursday at a care facility in Artesia, daughter Carol Schuller Milner said. In 2013, Schuller was diagnosed with a tumor in his esophagus that had spread to his lymph nodes and began treatment.
This article will no doubt spark a bit of controversy. In it, Stephen John addresses the claims that Easter is pagan in origin. therefore Christians should not celebrate Easter Sunday:
This piece is not about how evil and pagan the Easter bunny and Easter are,” John clarifies. “Or that Easter eggs, especially the red-painted ones, constitute full-blown devil worship and offerings to strange goddesses. Boo! And it’s not about whether or not born-again believers should or should not celebrate Easter—that is your decision. This piece was written from a born-again believer’s perspective and looks at some other Easter-related issues. But please note that you’re not going to get your obsessive, fanatical, and unbiblical anti-Easter fix here. For that, try the Hebrew Roots Movement cult, the Sacred Name Movement cult, your local branch of the Anti-Easter League, the We-Are-All-Jews-Now fan club, or, sadly (in many cases), your local church. Close your mouth.
They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19, NASB
19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like:of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21, KJV
In the passage from Galatians, which I placed above, at the end of v. 20 is the word “heresies.” The NASB translates this same word as “factions.” It is a form of the word αἵρεσις or hairesis, which is only theoretical in that one can hold different views than the majority and remain in the same body but he is a heretic. Heresy is theoretical and does not become practical until the heretic tears himself away, σχίζω or schizō. Then he is schismatic and is the source of σχίσμα or schisma. In that, schismaticalness is practical heresy.
Consider it all joy my brothers whenever you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect that you may be mature and complete lacking in nothing. James 1:2–4, translated from the NA28 Greek text
Πᾶσαν χαρὰν ἡγήσασθε, ἀδελφοί μου, ὅταν πειρασμοῖς περιπέσητε ποικίλοις, γινώσκοντες ὅτι τὸ δοκίμιον ὑμῶν τῆς πίστεως κατεργάζεται ὑπομονήν. ἡ δὲ ὑπομονὴ ἔργον τέλειον ἐχέτω, ἵνα ἦτε τέλειοι καὶ ὁλόκληροι ἐν μηδενὶ λειπόμενοι. James 1:2–4, NA28
The man-centered religions that claim to be “Christian” in our time could never take James 1:2–4 literally. No, instead, they must demand from their own man-made Jesus that they have their best life now and that the sun stand still so that they can fulfill the vision that they claim to have received from him.
This whole idea of a faith that is self-renouncing, while submitting to Christ as Lord in all things, taking up our crosses, bearing his reproach outside the gates because he bore our reproach to pay the price to atone for our sins, is totally alien to those so-called Christians in those religions. Add to that the fiery trials of sanctification and their claim that we are taking the Bible too literally and that, since God is love, He would never do that to anyone.
Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. Matthew 4:18–22, NASB
It seems like just the other day, but actually it was in late 2004 through 2005 and into 2006 that the old Slice of Laodicea blog was going full tilt. Jim Bublitz, Ken Silva and Ingrid were taking it as well as giving it from those who hated to hear the truth that there is a dividing line between orthodox Christianity and everything else that calls itself Christian, but isn’t – that is, apostasy in one form or another.
I came into the battle seeking the truth. I was desperate because my church was being sucked into the Purpose Driven paradigm, and no one there would listen to my warnings. Both Jim and Ken were a great help to me. In any case, it was during all of that that we witnessed a group of individuals declare war on the orthodox Christianity we defended, refusing to be called “Christians” any longer, preferring to be called “Christ followers.”
I always looked at that with humor, because that seemed so self-righteous and pretentious and, if we look carefully at what these people were trying to say by that, they were driving themselves even further into a works-righteousness religion. Let’s look at our Lord’s own words in his calling people to follow Him.
According to Christian News Network:
A new report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) shows that the abortion giant Planned Parenthood received $1.5 billion in taxpayer funding from 2010–2012.
News Max reports:
Indiana has been under an “avalanche of intolerance” from people opposed to the state’s new religious freedom restoration law, said Gov. Mike Pence Sunday. Nevertheless, he supports the law and insisted that it will not be changed.
Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord, Or as His counselor has informed Him? Isaiah 40:13, NASB
When we observe Christian leaders operate according to the world’s standards and methods, with pastors taking on roles other than shepherd of the sheep then responding to righteous criticism with further deception, what we are actually witnessing are professing Christians not walking within the wisdom that is available to all true believers via the mind of Christ. This same situation is seen in all who have been deceived by and drawn into the “Innovation Cult” as well. That would include those proponents of easy-believism in all its forms. We see it in “church organizations” that are built around a personality, rather than following a shepherd of the sheep who is obediently following the Lord as he should. When a Christian leader becomes the focus rather than Christ in a ministry then we see this idolatry begin to take shape. How often do we see one of these personalities build up a large church then when he moves on to the next church the one he built just falls apart? This should not be, and is indicative of a form of Christianity that is built around this personality cultic focus rather than around following Christ.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:10–12, NASB
As we study Ephesians 6:10–20, which in most New Testaments is labeled as “The Armor of God” or something similar, we need to pay close attention to the reason God has given us this armor and, therefore, why it is necessary for us to put it on and keep it on at all time. The Church and God’s truth are continually under attack by our enemy. We take up this whole armor in order to stand firm in the evil day. Well, this is most definitely an evil day when truth is seen as something to be bargained away or shunned, while lies and that which is only appears to be the truth is elevated as if it is the truth. Because of this, we must become discerning and wise; therefore, we must consistently wear this armor.
Christian News Network reports:
Controversy is stirring over reports that “prophet” and speaker Chuck Pierce of Glory of Zion International Ministries ceremonially gave a “mantle” to popular radio host, author and speaker Glenn Beck, who identifies as a Mormon.
Beck appeared at Pierce’s Global Spheres Center in Corinth, Texas this past Sunday, as Falma Rufus, a black civil rights speaker, had reportedly asked Pierce if he would host her family and Beck’s. Pierce posted a photo of Beck’s appearance later that day, which showed Beck being imparted with a spiritual “mantle” as a Jewish tallit was wrapped around him and his wife.
“We were so honored to have Glenn Beck and his family with us at Global Spheres Center this morning!” Pierce wrote. “Here is Glenn receiving his new mantle for the future!”
For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Colossians 2:9–15, NASB
The mark of one who has been truly made alive together with Christ is not sinless perfection, but rather one who is actually fighting the “good fight” of being a living sacrifice and walking in repentance. That being said, let’s look at two passages in which is found the only New Testament occurrences of the Greek Word συζωοποιέω or suzōopoieō, “to make alive together with another; to make a sharer of the quickening of another.”
Christian News Network reports:
One of the nation’s largest Christian bookstore chains has announced that it has pulled all of its “Heaven visitation resources” following the passage of a Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolution surrounding the “sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife.”
Here we have another abomination from a far-left advocate of abortion on demand, this time in a children’s book by Mary Walling Blackburn, assistant professor of art at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. In her book, Blackburn portrays an aborted child as a “happy ghost.” NewsBusters columnist Katie Yoder writes:
The story follows Lee as he (or “she,” as the author stressed) searches for his sister – who might be an apple, a pig, or somewhere in a tree. Lee later decides “Sister is a happy ghost!” and explicitly says he’s glad Sister isn’t around to inconvenience his parents.
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1 John 3:1–3, NASB
It is imperative that Christians have a correct and viable theology of suffering. These health, wealth, and prosperity preachers in our time will disagree of course, but let them. We have God’s truth, His Word, held in objective context held up against their subjective, ear-tickling smoke and mirrors false religion. Oh, there may indeed be some “spirituality” going on in there, but to proclaim, “God is here!” or “God is in this!” or “We are having a revival, come and join us!” is the very act of man elevating himself above God, telling Him what to do and when.
However, I digress. God has always used suffering in the lives of His people to sanctify them, to draw them to prayer, to purify them, to grow them spiritually, and to direct their paths. Paul called some of his suffering a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan (2 Corinthians 12), but allowed by God to keep him from exalting himself because of his great knowledge. When we learn to view the seriousness of our sin as Paul did and God’s glory as imperative then we will begin to understand that sin in the life of a Christian is an anathema in a realistic, daily sense rather than in some sort of abstract give and take.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him A drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:19–21, NASB
It is the duty of all believers to serve the Lord by being good soldiers, ready for battle to stand and contend for His Truth no matter the cost. However, there are right and wrong ways this is done. It is vital for the apologist to know the truth, and that is found only in God’s Word. Yes, some godly Christians speak and write truth from God’s Word, but the primary source for us is the Word of God. This is why it is vital that believers sit at the feet of good and godly teachers of God’s truth that they may know and love His pure doctrines. I have seen so many good Christians attempt to stand up to apologists for some man-centered version of our faith, but they are not prepared. This usually ends badly. The reason this happens is that these good people use tactics born in the flesh rather than from the humble, and wise heart that is submitted totally to the will of God. The enemy is an expert at inciting people to react emotionally to what they perceive as wrong, and this can lead to snippy arguments that produce only bad fruit.
In part 1 of this series, CRN correspondent Marsha West brings to light some of the pitfalls that occur when Christians leave Jesus Christ out of the equation and fall in line behind pragmatic pro-family “evangelicals” in their effort to “save America” from the ravages of Secular Humanism. Many pro-family groups put on the cloak of the evangelical, but are they really evangelical in the true sense of the word?
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
Romans 4:7–8, NASB
The Church – the genuine Church that is – is made up of people whose sins have been forgiven by our merciful God. What is the basis for this forgiveness? Are these God has forgiven more worthy than those outside the Church? Let us look at the paradox of our holy, righteous, and just God who proclaims that He will not forgive those who have sinned against Him, but who does show mercy to some.
You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. This I command you, that you love one another.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
John 15:14–19, NASB
A study of the book of Acts reveals that as Christianity spread as the Apostles obediently made disciples wherever they went, it was always accompanied by persecution. The hotter the persecution the more encouraged the brethren became. While that is not logical to the fallen mind, that is exactly how God grew His church. In the early second century, the bishop of Smyrna, Polycarp who was a disciple of the Apostle John, was brought to the Roman authorities and ordered to confess that Caesar is lord. Polycarp was eighty-six years old at this point. All he had to do was utter that statement as he offered a pinch of incense to Caesar, but he refused. He was martyred by fire.
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:11–19, NASB
All in Christ have much in common no matter what doctrines they hold. Therefore, this post’s focus is on the marvelous outcome of our salvation that we are Children of God and because of that we have a “purifying hope” in Christ.
Christian News Network reports:
Scientists exploring the Atlantic Ocean have discovered mysterious metallic nodules on the ocean floor that may provide telltale evidence of the Great Flood.
Last month, a German research team announced the discovery of dense clusters of manganese nodules on the ocean floor. Using a mesh net intended to scoop up marine life, the researchers accidentally brought up balls of manganese ore from over three miles below the water’s surface.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1–10, NASB
I am in no way backing off of the fact that I am a Calvinist. God is sovereign. He is perfect. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and immutable. He is holy, righteous, and just. Did I mention that he is sovereign? Yes, He most certainly is that and if you study – honestly study – holy sacred Scripture with the goal of finding God’s truth, and not seeking an excuse to justify your own belief system, you have to come away from an exclusive, totally exegetical study of it grounded in the presupposition that God is righteous and just, and that man is His creation to do with as He pleases.
Also, any attempt to place the free will of man over and above the sovereign will of God is an act of rebellion, and causes men to interpret scripture from an alien hermeneutic, leading them to totally misunderstand God and His will. As I have posted several articles lately about Reformation theology, I have also received many “communications” from certain people who find it “offensive.” I have been doing this a long time, and I hope you have noticed that I no longer allow “arguing” of any kind on my blog. Debate and arguing are not the same thing. No one in the offended camp wants to debate…